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In honor of actor Andy Garcia and his (unintentionally) hilarious reaction to Sofia (Mary Corleone) Coppola's death scene in "The Godfather, Part III."
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May 31, 1971

Posted 07-26-2017 at 07:10 AM by TommyJohn
Updated 06-25-2018 at 09:56 PM by TommyJohn

May 31,1971
vs. Baltimore Orioles
at White Sox Park

The White Sox continue to slog along in last place in the AL West. They can hit the ball, but fielding misadventures abound, led by Bee Bee Richard, who by this time has 15 errors and is being auditioned by Chuck Tanner in centerfield.

This Memorial Day double dip with the Orioles provided plenty of fireworks and entertainment. And there were two games played as well.

The first game saw a terrific pitcher's duel, with Tommy John outhurling Jim Palmer as the Sox take it 1-0. John, who isn't having his best year, fanned six and scattered five hits to go to 3-5 with a 5.11 ERA.

It was in game two that the sparks began to fly.

Baltimore dominated this one, taking a 6-2 lead thanks to two upper deck home runs by leftfielder and former Sox 1967er Don Buford.

Bart Johnson, who served up the second drive, wasn't too happy about it. When Buford stepped up in the top of the 8th, Johnson plunked him in the back. An angry Buford stalked out toward the mound with his bat in his hands. Pitcher and hitter shouted at each other as both benches emptied. Johnson threw one punch that missed. No others were thrown, but the Sox protested that Buford should have been ejected from the game for bringing his bat out to the mound. Umpire Nestor Chylak allowed Buford to stay in.

This upset the fans big time. When Buford went out to left field for the bottom of the 8th the "Sox Supporters" (a group that was the south side equivalent of Wrigley Field's Bleacher Bums, and sometimes just as rowdy) greeted him with boos, jeers and a barrage of garbage. The game had to be halted for the mess to be cleaned up.

In the 9th the Orioles poured on more runs and Buford was on deck when he suddenly turned and yelled at a fan who was throwing apple cores at him. "Stop it before someone gets hurt" Buford threatened. When he turned his back another fan came out of the stands and jumped him.

This brought the entire Oriole team out of the dugout to give the fan, a crane operator from Hammond, Indiana, a decidedly one-sided 25-to-1 pummeling. His favorite team didn't fare much better, finally losing 11-3.

The next day the genteel Baltimore media reacted with horror, treating the Orioles as put-upon martyrs who were innocently playing ball until they ran into the dirty Sox and their barbaric fans. Buford's bat-toting stunt was forgotten.

Well, not by all. Stu Holcomb was outraged that Buford was not ejected, saying the whole mess would have been avoided if he had been. Holcomb also demanded that the league take action against Oriole manager Earl Weaver, who had been quoted as saying that if Buford had used his bat on Johnson, it would have been OK with him.

The whole incident took a while to blow over. The fans certainly were not ready to forgive and forget. When Buford came out to left field the next night, he was again greeted by prolonged jeers. One fan, taking a cue from the Bleacher Bums, hurled a smoke bomb onto the field. Thanks for 1967 Donny, you bum.

As Harry Caray more than once observed "Ahh, you can't beat fun at the old ballpark."

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